Archive | February, 2011

Week 4 challenge

27 Feb

The time has arrived for my next challenge! Since I’m not feeling the most triumphant after last week’s challenge (love the dress but it’s not exactly the best hommage to Gucci’s inspiration dress) my first thought was to give myself an easier week by focusing on shoes. But then the more I though about it I realized that shoes are also going to be pretty tough to find for under $20. So I have decided to focus on finding a brown bag since 1) I need one, and 2) there are lots of brown bags out there so this challenge should be pretty straight forward right? Hmm, yeah, about that straight forward/easy comment, this challenge could have been easier if I hadn’t come across my current object of desire:

 

Proenza Schouler $2350

This absolute beauty is Proenza Schouler’s PS1 Extra Large leather travel bag. It is a caramel-brown leather travel bag with a top handle, a detachable knotted shoulder strap, a buckle-fastening cross-body strap, a fold-over flap front with a lock and strap fastening, pouch pockets at the front and back, an internal zip-fastening pocket, and it is fully lined. It retails for $2350 at CAD at NET-A-PORTER. Easy to find for under $20 right? This will be tough.

I have to say, I have not been this smitten with an accessory since the great Rosazissimo obsession of 2009-2010. I am IN LOVE with this bag! It is classic, timeless, and downright drool-worthy. I have thus decided to pen an open letter to Proenza Schouler in case they ever stumble upon my silly little blog and have an interest in charity:

Dear Mr. McCollough and Mr. Hernandez,

I am writing to profess my utter delight in your designs and specifically one item in particular, the PS1 extra large leather travel bag (in Saddle). This beautiful work of art has inspired great feelings of fashion lust in me but alas, I am just a poor graduate student trying to survive a horrible recession that has left me in a stylistic rut. Unfortunately, my current meagre funds cannot afford me the luxury of purchasing your magnificent product therefore, I must try to appeal to your charitable natures.

If you could be ever so kind as to donate one of your beautiful bags to my cause I will be forever grateful to you and will showcase your product everywhere I go. I will even shout about its glorious craftsmanship from the rooftops! If you cannot part with one of your prime specimens I will gladly offer to take one of its brothers or sisters with more “character” off your hands. Perhaps one that has been slightly damaged in the production process, or one that was tragically injured in a stocking or shipping accident? I am a woman with a lot of love to give and am fully committed to aiding in any bag-related rescue and rehabilitation.

I thank you in advance for considering my most heartfelt request and I hope to someday coddle one of your wonderful creations. In the meantime I would like to apologize for attempting to find an alternative to your bag for under $20. Of course I could never find an article that truly embodies the glory of your product for such a small sum of money and I mean no offense or insult.

Sincerely,

Mel    xoxoxo

(Please send all parcels C/O Mel at The SpendThrift Experiment)

I’ll keep all you readers updated on when my shipment arrives, lol. In the meantime the challenge is on!

Week 3 Results

26 Feb

It’s time for the results of the Week 3 challenge! If you recall, the target article of clothing was a LBD from Gucci’s ready to wear collection that retails for $1340 CAD:

Gucci

 

So how did I do this week? Well I found a really great dress that I’m actually quite happy with! Unfortunately, the style isn’t exactly true to the Gucci inspiration but if you are shopping with more than $20 in your wallet there are quite a few similar dresses out there (for example at Guess and Suzy Shier).

Although the LBD that I did find is more of a bandeau dress and doesn’t have the same sleeves or a belt (not that I’m too upset about the lack of a belt, as I mentioned in the challenge post belts just don’t work with my short waist), I do think that it still works:

 

I found the dress at Suzy Shier where the regular retail price was $40 but it was in the clearance section so it was an additional 50% off:

 

Now I know that only brings the price down to $20 before taxes and if you recall I have to stay within $20 including the tax. Luckily (depending on how you look at it at least), some of the seams of the dress had come loose (and I have no problem picking up a needle and thread) so I got an extra %15 off:

Come to think of it I really should have tried to get more taken off of the price but at the time I was just focused on getting the dress for under $20.

With all of the discounts  I ended up with a whopping grand total of $19.21! My most expensive purchase yet! This leaves me with $0.79 for the Savings Bank (I’ll try not to spend it all in one place, lol). Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the receipt to prove the price but you trust me right? And if you don’t trust me (shame on you!) I was shopping with a friend so they can vouch for me, plus I had no cash on me so my purchase has been recorded and legitimized courtesy of my trusty VISA card.

So how does the dress look on an actual person? Here it is:

Dress Suzy Shier, sandals Aldo

 

I think it’s great for a night out with some fun platform sandals. For the office I’ll pair it with a blazer and maybe some boots and tights at least until the weather warms up more:

Blazer Jacob, boots Aldo

 

Well I’ve shown you my purchase for the week and given you my opinion, now it’s time to hear yours!

Revisiting the rules…yet again

25 Feb

I seem to always have the rules of this experiment in the back of my mind. I’ve also had many conversations with friends and family about the rules and I have come to the conclusion that I need to tweak them once again. I hope that this will be the last time but I’m a bit of an indecisive person so no guarantees!

When I first came up with the idea for this experiment, besides getting the usual “are you crazy, $20 is just too little money?!” and “how are you going to find these specific items?” comments, I also got the “52 weeks’ worth of challenges adds up to an awful lot of clothes”, “how are you going to find space for all of these clothes?” and “does it always have to be clothing?” comments.

 

Warner Brothers

Well to respond to these queries: yes this experiment will add up to a lot of clothes (not that that is necessarily a bad thing of course), I have no idea how I am going to find the space to house all of them but I have a feeling that my office and spare bedroom will become much more cozy, and no it doesn’t always have to be clothing since the rules allow for a one-time accessories cheat. Thinking about the latter point I’ve decided to open this experiment up to more accessories. The fact is I absolutely love shoes (shocking I know!):

This is just a tiny sample of my shoes, they also populate the closet in our front entry way and embarrassingly an entire cupboard above my desk at school. I also think that there may be some in the basement and garage but those are the strictly utilitarian shoes.

I also think that I do need some new shoes (I can hear Raine laughing about this one right now) since some of my shoes have seen better days. Or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself. I would also like a few new bags (I need a brown purse for one) and some other accessories like jewellery, scarves etc.

Based on all of these wants, umm I mean needs; I will give myself 5 bag challenges, 5 shoe challenges, and 5 “other” accessories challenges. This way I will mix things up a bit and also be able to hit up some different/specialty stores. Plus I’ll be able to indulge in the shoe craving I’ve been experiencing recently…Week 4 may be the week to finally get my fix!

Triumph or Tacky?

22 Feb

Based on the online votes and the reactions that I got to my outfit and the black Tommy Hilfiger vest today I think that Week 2’s challenge was a triumph! Or at least a partial triumph, I haven’t gotten a chance to wear the grey vest yet but I will write a quick post about it when I do.

I wore my outfit to my defense (which I passed, yay!) and I got compliments on the vest from people around the office so I think that today qualifies as a good day! I really like how the look turned out and I think it definitely has a Katharine Hepburn/Chanel-ish vibe to it. Of course it’s nowhere near a true approximation of Chanel but maybe someday I can upgrade to the real thing. In the meantime I may just watch Coco Avant Chanel again for a quick fix!

Audrey Tatou in Coco Avant Chanel. Photo: Chantal Thomine-Desmazures

This menswear inspired look was also nice and comfortable which I enjoyed, except perhaps for the pants that seem to be a bit tighter than when I last wore them. Hmm, I think that I may have taken the whole newlywed “fat and happy” thing a little too far… Since I’ve been married for over a year now my newlywed excuse is pretty much equivalent to a woman sitting in McDonald’s complaining about how she hasn’t lost “the baby weight” as she’s watching her 10 year play in the playroom. But I digress.

Overall I’m happy with last week’s challenge and I hope that this week is just as successful. Tomorrow I definitely need to do some shopping, after the gym of course…

Week 3 challenge

20 Feb

PPPB4MC7U5XT

With two relatively successful challenges under my belt I’m feeling pretty good about this experiment! So far I haven’t experienced what I will term (and I’m sure others have termed) an EFF (epic fashion fail) and I’m very encouraged by that fact (I think the term EFF is an appropriate descriptor that could potentially be used in this experiment, as in  “what the EFF is that?!”).

On to this week’s challenge that will hopefully not be an EFF! Since the Fall/Winter 2011 collections have been showcased and it’s still pretty cold out I think that my mind is still in Winter mode (Spring is just around the corner though right?). Unfortunately, fashion-wise I’m still kind of drawn to dark colour palettes so what better way to structure this challenge than around the classic little black dress (referred to as the LBD from now on…bear with me, I’m a scientist, I like my acronyms). I saw this dress in Gucci’s ready to wear collection and I thought that it was very classic and chic:

 

Gucci $1340 CAD

It is a belted boatneck dress made of black bonded flat cotton jersey. I’m not sure if I’ll pair a belt with it since I’m short-waisted and I have a really hard time finding belts that look good on me but we’ll see! I figure that a dress like this is a perfect wardrobe staple since it’s completely work appropriate and would be great to have on the off-chance that I get a job sometime soon (please send me your positive vibes!).

Wish me luck! My next post will be Tuesday’s episode of Triumph or Tacky? and I’m also going to discuss and update the rules (yet again!) in another post this week.

 

belted boat neck dress.

 

 

Description
  • black bonded flat cotton jersey
  • back zip closure
  • leather belt with metal buckle
  • 47% cotton, 45% polyamide, and 8% elastam

Week 2 Results

19 Feb

It’s the end of the Week 2 challenge and time for me to reveal my purchases! If you recall, my inspiration was the menswear trend and the specific clothing item was a vest, well two vests actually, one from Ralph Lauren and one from DSquared2:

So how did I do? Well, I managed to find two vests and still stay within budget! Before anyone mentions it I wasn’t able to find anything in white or with pinstripes so I know that deducts a few points but I think that I still rocked the challenge given that I did find two vests! If you are interested in a white vest Guess does have one that is similar to the DSquared2 one on sale for $44.99 with an additional 50% off but it kind of has ugly gold buttons on it…

Both of my purchases were thrift store steals. The first vest fits more with the style of the Ralph Lauren inspiration and is by Tommy Hilfiger.  It was the priciest purchase of the two at $11.29 taxes included:

I’m assuming it was more expensive since it is a “brand name” item.

The second bears a greater resemblance to the DSquared2 vest and came in at a budget friendly $4.51:

I’m pretty sure that this vest was originally from Sirens and that explains the much cheaper price (and look of the garment, lol).

That leaves me with a total of $4.20 to add to the SpendThrift savings bank!

Now in my original Week 2 challenge post I had mentioned that I also needed a dress shirt if I was going to wear a vest to my defence. Lucky for me I actually found one hiding in my closet so that was a great money saver! So here is the first vest on me with the dress shirt and some trousers (that apparently shrunk in the wash, hmm…):

Vest thrifted Tommy Hilfiger, shirt Jacob, trousers Club Monaco, shoes Steve Madden

For a more casual look I think that it also looks cute with a white t-shirt:

 

T-shirt Smartset

Here’s the second vest with a simple black tank top (sorry it looks a little wrinkled in the picture):

 

Vest thrifted Seduction, tank top Old Navy

And a silly picture with my puppy:

Is it the red lips or the outfit?

 

I think that this look is more appropriate for a night out with friends so needless to say this is not the look that I will be wearing to my defence on Tuesday!

Well I’ve shown you my purchases and given you my opinion, now it’s time to hear yours!

The Savings Bank (and an ode to Louboutins)

17 Feb

With one challenge under my belt (and amazingly some change leftover from my first purchases!) I figured that I should outline what happens to the money that I don’t spend. I have decided that every week I will add the remaining money into a little piggy bank that I will call the SpendThrift Savings Bank:

 

My purse bank 😮 Thanks Mom!

So how much money is in the savings bank at the moment? I have a grand total of $6.53 (at some point I’ll see if I can arrange a widget in the sidebar that always has the tally going). I’ll be interested to see how much this savings bank grows over time.

Now what is the purpose of this savings bank? Well I figured that with the exception of pulling out some money to cover the shipping costs associated with my one online shopping cheat  (see the rules for further clarification), I will let my leftover challenge money accumulate over the course of the entire experiment and buy something fun at the end of it!  Do I have any ideas for what would qualify as “something fun”? Hmm, let me think about this for about a nanosecond…

Christian Louboutin Maudissima $595

Ahhh, *swoon*….

Christian Louboutin Very Prive $795

Double *swoon*

If you are questioning my sanity or ability to do math yes I realize that even if I manage to save $5 from each weekly challenge that only brings me to $260 at the end of the year. However, I am hoping that by the end of this experiment I am gainfully employed and I can use my SpendThrift savings bank money as a down payment on a beautiful pair of signature red soles. I may not even be able to walk in the pair of shoes that I decide to buy (Louboutins do come with certain risks) but really, sitting shoes have their merits too right?

I have loved Christian Louboutin shoes ever since I first saw them years ago. When I was planning my wedding I was downright obsessed with one pair in particular:

Christian Louboutin Rosazissimo

 

I kept imagining myself walking down the aisle (ok, beach in my case) wearing my beautiful “something blues”. However, the $995 price tag coupled with the fact that heels and sand aren’t really a good mix meant that they just weren’t an option. Come to think of it they really wouldn’t have fit with my Grecian-style dress but really, I didn’t care at the time. I knew that no one else at my wedding would have cared that I was wearing Louboutins (some friends even told me to find a pair of *gasp* knock-offs) but I would have known and that would have been enough for me! I did find a perfect pair of Jimmy Choos as an alternative but Louboutins still would have been the epitome of luxury and I still think that they make amazing shoes that are perfect for weddings:

Christian Louboutin N°Prive Riche

Well I think that I’ve gushed enough about Louboutins for one day. My next post will be the Week 2 result post!

Triumph or Tacky?

15 Feb

Welcome to the first addition of my post-challenge week results segment that I have decided to dub “Triumph or Tacky?”! I know, the name is horrible but it beats my original less inspired idea of calling it the “Tuesday Testimonial”. This is a post that I will write every Tuesday to go over the results of the previous week’s challenge and let you know what the reactions were to my outfit from people who have seen it in person (I’m going to try to make a habit out of wearing the challenge outfits on Tuesdays).

So how did I do in the Week 1 Marc Jacobs cardigan challenge? Given that it was my very first challenge for this experiment I think that I did pretty darn well and the online votes seem to agree with me so I think this week was a triumph! So far a total of 11 people have voted (first of all I’m amazed that you’re actually reading this!) and 9 out of the 11 people thought that I did great (to the two people who voted “Good effort but not quite close enough” I appreciate your honesty and thank you for keeping my budget in mind and not choosing the last option).

Now what about the outfit in person? Well as Murphy’s Law would have it I picked the coldest freakin day of the week to wear a skirt since it felt like -28C this morning with the wind chill! Since I have wholeheartedly committed myself to this challenge I couldn’t cop out and wear something else so I paired my outfit with an incredibly stylish pair of good old Canadian wool tights…. actually they’re wool long johns that are probably circa 1986 but fashion sometimes needs to be tweaked to accommodate the elements so consider them my tribute to practical Canadian attire. I may have lost points for styling, seriously though, it was cold!

Super stylish Canadian tights!

My day consisted of working at school and a trip to the passport office. To be honest, there weren’t many people at school today but the people that I did see thought that I did a good job (and ironically are also part of the 9 people who voted that I did great online, they wouldn’t lie to me right?). While standing in line at the passport office I considered polling random people but something tells me that the middle-aged commissionaire with the beer belly, pants so short they bordered on being capris, and mismatched socks wouldn’t be all that interested in my challenge…

As a complete aside, the passport office also just happens to be located in the same building as Holt Renfrew. Since I was in the area I just had to stop in to peruse for a few minutes, only because their merchandise could inspired future challenges of course ;o) Now I love Holt Renfrew but every time I go in I also feel slightly uncomfortable. It usually starts when I walk in and a tall, slender, stylishly dressed older sales associate gives me “the look”.  You know, the “I’m not looking at you to greet you and welcome you to the store” look, it’s the “are you even worth my time to say hello to since you don’t look like you can afford this store” look. It could also be construed as the “I’m not going to offer to help you but I’m going to follow you around the store to make sure you don’t steal anything” look. Well of course today I got “the look” but at least I felt slightly more secure since I was holding a Coach bag. As uncomfortable as I was I still looked around and I saw a gorgeous Burberry trench:

Burberry, $775 at Holt Renfrew

Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size (can you detect my sarcasm?) so I moved on and did a quick search for the Marc Jacobs cardigan and Theory skirt (this is about the time I started to hear my VISA card start laughing maniacally). I had no luck locating either garment (and the laughing from my VISA was getting louder) so I put the Coach bag back on the shelf where I found it and promptly left the store (just kidding, it actually was my own Coach bag). It was nice to look at beautiful clothes and shoes though!

Well, I think that I have done enough rambling in this post. Here’s hoping that this week’s challenge is also successful!

Week 2 challenge

13 Feb

Well I’m happy to say that I officially survived Week 1! I think that all things considered I actually did pretty well (but of course that’s up to you to decide). So on to my next challenge!

I’ve noticed that the menswear-inspired trend seems to be surfacing again. I love this trend because it’s very wearable and classic. With spring just around the corner (well hopefully at least!) and fashion weeks taking place all over the world, the fashion magazines are coming out with their spring 2011 trend reports. This is where the menswear trend caught my eye. In Style magazine featured a Ralph Lauren vest that I thought was really cute:

It’s Lauren by Ralph Lauren and retails for $149.

I also noticed a similar vest popping up on the runway in the spring 2011 collection of Canadian designers DSquared2 at Milan fashion week:

DSquared2, Spring 2011, Milan Fashion Week

And the same vest in a spread in Vogue Paris featuring Canadian model Daria Werbowry:

Vogue Paris February 2011

I have no idea how much the DSquared2 vest costs but it’s safe to say that runway=way more than $20!

Although I think that the vest looks cute with shorts or a long skirt I don’t think that I’ll end up pairing it with them. I might wear the vest with shorts in a picture for the blog but I plan on wearing this challenge outfit to my PhD proposal defense and I think that my committee members might wonder if I’ve lost it (or if I’m looking for an easy pass) if I show up in short shorts! They will definitely know that I’ve lost it if I also show up not wearing a shirt under the vest (or they will think that my funding is now so meagre that I need to make ends meet “on the side”). A dress shirt under the vest is a must!

So what is the exact look I’m going for? Well the vest is going to be the basis for this challenge and I hope to style it in more of a Katharine Hepburn inspired way (specifically more like the look on the right with a dress shirt):

I found this vintage pattern on Etsy.

I’m thinking the vest, a dress shirt, and trousers. I have the trousers but not the dress shirt so this ups the challenge a little bit. We’ll see how this week goes!

A quick note on the rules

I’m going to update the rules regarding eBay, online shopping, and what happens if I return something. Thanks for all your input regarding these little dilemmas I was having!

For eBay and online shopping: the rules will be that shipping costs must be factored into the $20 and I must have the item of clothing by the Saturday end date of the week’s challenge, BUT I will allow myself one online shopping cheat where I can pay shipping on top of the $20 (the item must still arrive by the next Saturday though).

For returns I will be able to pool the money from the returned item towards the next week’s purchase BUT I need to try my absolute best to avoid bad purchases.

Week 1 results

12 Feb

I knew that this experiment was going to be a challenge. Everyone I spoke to about it told me either: a) I’m crazy, b) $20 is just too little money to recreate a look, or c) that I must have a lot of time on my hands. Well in response to those comments, yes I probably am a little crazy, $20 is a VERY tight budget to stick to, and well, as for time, with the exception of doing some volunteering I was at home this week having a little staycation so I had the luxury of some extra shopping time. We’ll see how next week pans out when I’m back doing school-work full time (if you’re looking for me I will either be: a) at school, b) strapped to my computer at home, c) swimming in the bottom of a bargain bin, or d) at the gym doing cardio to build up my endurance for shopping marathons).

Without a doubt this challenge was very difficult. I visited more stores than I can count and every type of store imaginable. I have to admit to lying in bed a few nights wondering if I bit off more than I could chew. I think that I may have been a little overambitious with my first fashion choice. The thing is, at first glance an article of clothing can look very simple but when you actually break it down based on its details it ends of being more complex. The Marc Jacobs cardigan is a good example of this. At first it looks like a simple cardigan but then you notice all of its elements. So when I was shopping I had to consider that it is a button-front cardigan, that it has a ribbed neckline, cuffs, and hem, that it has three-quarter length sleeves, that it is stripped, and that the colour tones are beige, pink, and grey. I tried as best I could to match as many of these elements as possible but of course I couldn’t find an exact replica (although if you have $54.99 there is a similar one at Banana Republic, unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it).

So onto the big question: how did I do? Well, I tried my best and I did end up finding something! I’m not sure how much it lives up to the essence of the Marc Jacobs cardigan (not perfect but as close a match as I could find within my budget) but I guess that’s for you to decide!

So here it is!

It is made up of a luxurious blend of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic. Ladies and gentlemen, “a rich blend of silk and cashmere” this is not, but it is still a cute basic cardigan that I can add into my wardrobe rotation (I’ll let you know how it holds up quality-wise once I wear it).

So what was the grand total for this garment? Well, it was on sale in the clearance section of Old Navy for $21.99 and everything in the clearance section was an additional 50% off so with taxes it came to a grand budget-friendly total of…$12.42! That left me with $7.58.

Since I had some money left over I decided to see what was out there that resembled the Theory skirt. Well I think that I really lucked out! It doesn’t have the abstract patterning of the Theory skirt but it was a serious deal:

The skirt came to a grand, unbelievable total of $1.05 and I got it in the children’s section of Winners. I couldn’t believe it! Even the girl at the cash said that it was one of the best deals she has ever seen at the store! So when I subtract everything from my $20 I’m left with $6.53 for future ventures (I’ll post about what I’m going to do with left over money sometime next week).

Although my finds aren’t exact replicas of the Marc Jacobs and Theory designs I think that I did pretty well on my first challenge! Here’s the outfit I created with a bit of styling (please keep in mind I am not a very photogenic person, I’ll be writing a post on this topic at some point):

Cardigan Old Navy, skirt Winners, boots (since it’s cold outside!) my own from Aldo

 

So what do you think?

I will also wear this to school and conduct my own very scientific poll of my co-workers and let you know the overall verdict next week (I’ll probably end up calling it something cheesy like the “Tuesday testimonial”).